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Albums of the Year 2019: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2019: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster

Albums of the Year 2019: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster

A remarkable concert from 2003, released in 2019

As the attention-jostling hype becomes ever more unashamed, we get further from the music. The myths and the 'message' get louder, to the point where the question of whether the music itself might actually be worth hearing can become secondary. I've seen music industry people this year happy to treat live music as a "hang" – in one case that stays in the mind, the headline act at a festival  and to chat through it rather than to listen.

Young musicians are told that the correct masquerade when they give interviews is to claim that they have drawn all their inspiration from their room, or their mates, or from street culture in Deptford, and to hide inconvenient facts – like their years studying at a conservatoire. And how did the quality filter fail to the extent that Jeff Goldblum can suddenly be presented as a “world-class jazz pianist” (ClassicFM website)...

Stop it already. Rant over. But what I do find myself trying to reach out for is honesty. And quality. And ideally both. As one leading New York-based jazz pianist suggested to me recently: "Why don't people just ask us who's any good?!"

An album which took me completely by surprise this year was a recording of a concert given in February 2003 at the Mary Pickford Auditorium at Claremont McKenna College, about 30 miles to the East of LA. For reasons fully explained in my detailed review for LondonJazz News, the recording, made "for archival purposes," has only seen the light of day this year.

The musicians involved here are digging deep into the jazz legacy of the blind Chicago-born pianist Lennie Tristano (1919-1978), taken on by saxophonists Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz. One carrier of that flame is alto saxophonist Gary Foster, a LA studio and session veteran with more than 500 movie soundtrack credits. He was joined for this concert by the astonishing tenor player Mark Turner, almost thirty years his junior, by drummer Joe La Barbera, who had that chair in the very last Bill Evans trio, and by LA bassist Putter Smith, strangely best known for his briefest of cameos as the James Bond villain Mr. Kidd in Diamonds are Forever.

No tricks, no overdubs, just four great musicians capturing the fleeting moment, living it to the absolute full, and creating something new, fresh and remarkable. 

Albums of the Year 2019: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (Capri Records)

Listen to Mark Turner and Gary Foster play 'Lennie's Pennies:


Two More Essential Albums from 2019

Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, Chris Potter – Good Hope (Edition)

Brian Kellock (solo) – Bidin’ My Time (HHCD)

Gig of the Year

Yes! Trio (Aaron Goldberg, Omer Avital, Ali Jackson) at New Morning, Paris

Track of the Year

Charlie Haden's "Our Spanish Love Song" from Harp vs. Harp by Grégoire Maret and Edmar Castañeda (ACT)

Four great musicians capturing the fleeting moment and living it to the absolute full


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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